Orsini, Michael J.
Michael was born 6 June, 1916 in Knox, New York, the son of the Peter and Mary Orsini.
He fought in the U.S. Army.
Marriage and Children
He married Viola at about 1939 and had one son:
- Alexander Orsini (1941-1947)
He worked as a truck driver for the Albany County Highway Department in Knox until his retirement. For many years, he ran Mike's Sausage Stand at the Altamont Fair and was affectionately known as Meatball. He was a member of the American Legion Post in Altamont.
He died January 26, 2005 at St. Clare's Hospital in Schenectday, New York after a brief illness, and was buried at the Fairview Cemetery in Altamont.
[Knox]--Michael J. Orsini, affectionately known as "Meatball," was a social man who was happiest running Mike's Sausage Stand at the Altamont Fair. "His whole life was the Altamont Fair," said Helen Quay, Mr. Orsini's companion. "He loved everything about it." Mike's Sausage Stand was near the grandstand at the fair for at least 40 years, she said. Hundreds of people came to the stand for an Italian treat or to visit with Meatball, she said. Mr. Orsini died on Wednesday, January 26, 2005, at St. Clare's Hospital in Schenectady, following, a brief illness. He was 88. He was born in Knox, the son of the late Peter and Mary Orsini and was one of 15 children. Mr. Orsini was kind to his sibblings, said his brother, Joseph Orsini. "He was 12 years older than me, but we were close," he said. "I remember him, always being good to me." Their father built many houses in Altamont and Mr. Orsini would help him, Joseph Orsini said. Mr. Orsini served in the United States Army during World War II with six of his brothers. Later, he worked as a truck driver for the Albany County Highway Department in Knox, until his retirement. He was also a member of the American Legion Post in Altamont. Mr. Orsini loved horses. "He used to race at Saratoga," Ms. Quay said. "One of his horses, Bev Hi Lee, he raced for years." Joseph Orsini said his brother kept some horses in Altamont and some at Saratoga. For 25 years, Mr. Orsini trained horses to harness race, Joseph Orsini said. Mr. Orsini was fun to be around, his brotrher said. "He was a good dancer," he said. "He taught a lot of people how to dance to Polish music." Still, Mr. Orsini is best known for his talent as a cook. "He loved to cook," Ms. Quay said. "He made a lot of Italian dishes, but sausage was his specialty. He taught himself to cook at home. He didn't have training or anything." Mike's Sausage Stand at the Altamont Fair started as a small hot dog stand and grew, Ms. Quay said. "It was a lot of work, but he liked it," she said. "He had a lot of friends and he was there every year." Years ago, she said, "We'd always tell the kids and grandkids, 'If we get separated, go to Mike's stand.' They'd always run back to Mike's stand. Everybody on the fairground knew where Mike's stand was." From working the stand, Mr. Orsini got the nickname of "Meatball." "It was because he was always working with meatballs; it just stuck with him," Ms. Quay said. "My two grandsons are 26 and 27 and, whenever they came over, they wouldn't say, 'Hi Mike'; they'd say, 'Hi Meatball,'" she said with a chuckle. "Today, all the kids still call him Meatball." Asked if she used the name, Ms. Quay said, "I called him that once in a while." When asked about the name, Joseph Orsini laughed. "That's what the kids called him," he said. Mr. Orsini ran a concession stand for a lot of different events, such as the Scottish games. Mr. Orsini was also a member of the Plank Roaders, a social club that was founded during Knox's sesquicentennial and continued to help those in need. "He liked to do a lot of cooking for their dances and functions," Jposeph Orsini said. "He liked to meet people and raise money for the Plank Roaders." But his true love was the Altamont Fair. While working for the county, Mr. Orsini also worked as a maintenance man at the Altamont fairgrounds. He mowed the lawns and took care of the grounds. "He would do anything for the fairground.," Ms. Quay said. Last August, Mr. Orsini needed an oxygen tank to breathe, but Ms. Quay took him to the Altamont Fair every day. "He loved it," she said. "He'd watch the people walking around. It didn't matter what the weather was. People would shoot the breeze with him; that made his day...I'm glad I did it." Ms. Quay said of her relationship with Mr. Orsini, "We'd been friends all our lives. He was married and I knew him then; he lived nearby. Then, when my husband passed away, we hung out together. He was a family acquaintance for a long time." Ms. Quay and Mr. Orsini developed a strong friendship, she said. "We'd go to places, like dances or out to eat. He was a very nice gentleman." Mr. Orsini was a thoughtful and loving person, Ms. Quay said. "He would give you the shirt off his back," she said. "He's resting now and he's not hurting anymore. He had an excellent life. I think his life was really full; he didn't give up anything." In addition to his brother, Joseph J. Orsini, of Altamont, and his companion, Helen Quay, of Knox, Mr. Orsini is survived by a brother, Edward D. Orsini, of Altamont, and several nieces and nephews. A son, Alexander Orsini, and eight brothers and four sisters, died before him. A funeral was held on Sunday at the Fredendall Funeral Home, in Altamont. Memorial contributions may be made to the Altamont Rescue Squad, Post Office Box 56, Altamont, NY 12009.--Nicole Fay Barr. Published in the Altamont Enterprise, Page 23, 3 Feb 2005 Issue.
Obituary [KNOX] Michael J. Orsini, 88, died Wednesday, January 26, 2005 at St. Clare's Hospital in Schenectady following a brief illness. Mike was born in Knox, the son of the late Peter and Mary Orsini. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He worked as a truck driver for the Albany County Highway Department in Knox until his retirement. For many years, he ran Mike's Sausage Stand at the Altamont Fair and was affectionately known as Meatball. He was a member of the American Legion Post in Altamont. He is survived by two brothers, Joseph J. Orsini and Edward D. Orsini, both of Altamont. He was the loving companion of Helen Quay of Knox. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by a son, Alexander Orsini, and eight brothers and four sisters. A funeral service will be held Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home, Altamont. Friends may call on Sunday from 1-4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, those who wish may make contributions to the Altamont Rescue Squad, PO Box 56, Altamont, NY 12009. Published in the Albany Times Union on 1/28/2005.